In 2010, the city of Bilbao was awarded the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, the equivalent to the Nobel Peace Prize of urban development. More recently, in 2013, its mayor received the World Mayor Award, awarded by the British City Mayors Foundation, in recognition of the urban transformation the Biscayan capital has undergone since 1990. Bilbao’s history reads like a fairytale. A once grey industrial city, it has converted itself into a sophisticated and cosmopolitan metropolis, where art comes alive both in museums and outside.
On the banks of the river Nervión, good living is a daily practice. You can sample the typical ‘pintxos’, watered down with ‘txikitos’ glasses of wine in the Old Town taverns, witness one of the legendary Athletic de Bilbao football games, or even escape to the countryside or the beautiful beaches, such as Barrika, Sopelana (ideal for surfers) or Meñakoz (where they practice nudism), located less than half an hour away by car.
If you are looking to soak up some art, the options are plentiful. La Alhóndiga, a monumental early- 20th-century building and old wine warehouse, is now a complete modern leisure and cultural centre, hosting exhibitions, conferences and cinema festivals. An interesting alternative to the world’s most impressive museums is the Guggenheim museum, to which both Bilbao and its visitors give endless praise. Designed by Frank Gehry, the museum is located on the riverbanks and is made up of curves and twists covered in limestone, glass curtains and titanium sheets. Even from the outside, the view of this astounding construction surrounded by water is a unique experience and worth catching one of our cheap flights to Bilbao for. Don’t miss out!
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